Daughter of Okla. Gov. Mocks Native American Cultural Imagery... Again; Gov. apologizes

Last month, Christina Fallin, daughter of Oklahoma Governor and member of the band Pink Pony, received a lot of attention after she posted a photo of herself on Instagram and Facebook, with the caption, "Appropriate Culturation." She has since apologized saying, "You can keep your distance from something your whole life out of fear that you might taint it or that it might taint you, or you can embrace it and let it affect you."

However, this weekend during a performance at a music festival, Fallin and her bandmate Steven Battles continued their share of ignorance and racism.

NORMAN, Okla. - Louis Fowler - There’s an unwritten rule that reporters aren't supposed to get involved in the stories they cover. As I have been covering this entire Christina Fallin/Native Appropriation debacle, it’s been extraordinarily hard because her and Pink Pony partner Steven Battles’ indignant racism towards indigenous peoples has become more sharpened and precise.

While once people were willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and defend their “artistic” choices as mere ignorance, Saturday night’s performance at the Norman Music Festival on the Blackwatch stage more than cemented the realization that they are deliberately provoking and trying to hurt Native Americans.

As a Choctaw, it was one of those moments where I couldn't just sit by and let the story happen.

Earlier in the day, on the Pink Pony Facebook page, the low-rent techno band announced “I heard Pink Piny (sic) was wearing full regalia tonight.” Whether this was a message to taunt or inform, it put many local Natives into action, especially highly-acclaimed singer-songwriter Samantha Crain.

Through Facebook, she organized a silent, peaceful protest that would be held during the band’s midnight performance.

Support was overwhelming, but there were also the typical cries of “Don’t give them attention!” or “You’re playing into their hands!” Maybe so, but when it’s your culture and history that is being publicly desecrated, you tell me that it’s alright to stand by and allow it to happen.

As Crain and supporters gathered together by the side of the stage, respectfully out of the view of the main crowd, we stood patient, waiting for the music to start. Unfortunately, the first set, Steven Battle’s rock project, was marred with tons of on-stage tuning, feedback and the general impression that they haven’t rehearsed that day, if, honestly, ever.

Once the music started, we held up our homemade signs that read “Don’t Tread on My Culture,” “I Am Not a Costume” and, in honor of Flaming Lips’ frontman and noted Fallin supporter Wayne Coyne, who stood behind the partition with Fallin’s entourage, accompanied by his girlfriend, laughing and pointing at the protesters, “What Would You Do With All Your Power?”

From the stage, Battles goaded and tried to incite reaction from the peaceful protesters, calling us “haters” and, at one point, urging the crowd to throw the middle finger our way which, sadly, much of the crowd did, like dogs trained to salivate to the sound of the world’s most out-of-tune bell.

It was around this time that a seemingly inebriated woman named Lauren Lackey, a Norman pseudo-celebutante claiming to be a part of the Norman Music Festival, belligerently told protesters that we were ordered to vacate and couldn’t be there.

As she got in the faces of various picketers, I stood defiantly as four security guards surrounded me. As they tried to strong-arm me, I stood like the big brick wall that I am. That is when everyone surrounding us took out their cellphones and began filming. One security guard grabbed my wrist and I looked at him and said “Do it. The world is watching.” Hearing that, he backed up and just stood in front of me with his arms crossed.

Eventually, the Norman PD showed up and said we had every right to protest there, but Lackey continued in her ranting. However, and kudos to Blackwatch for this, they allowed Crain on the other side of the partition where Fallin’s entourage stood mocking us, holding her sign with a courage and determination that inspired all of our tired arms to just hold our signs up higher, more stoic than ever.

Within minutes after that, Fallin took to the stage dressed in pantyhose, garters and an obviously Native-inspired shawl that read in big black letters “SHEEP.” This was in reference, it is theorized, that the protesters were easily-led morons for not believing what the band said in their non-apology regarding their “love of native culture” and whatnot.

This was painfully and brutally reinforced when, during one of their numbers, Fallin lifted her shawl over her head and did a perverse mockery of a native war-dance, twirling in circles as the drummer—anonymously wearing a “white-face” mask, mind you—tried desperately to keep the beat.

To see her reenact a sacred ritual like that in front of drunk, hateful hipsters literally caused the protesters’ collective jaws to drop. In essence, to me, it felt like Fallin was throwing it down and ultimately declaring war on Natives, not only the culture, but the people as well.

She really is like her mother.

As the show wrapped up and things seemingly returned to normal, one thing kept flashing through my mind: the image of that sea of white faces, giving the protesters the finger. It became a full-blown hate rally at that point, only with worse music. And these are my peers! I saw people I knew, I work with, that I called friends, turn on me and my fellow protesters because of our race and what we believe in.

I knew at the moment that they wouldn't be happy until they kill the rest of us off.

Yeah, a reporter isn’t supposed to get involved in the story. We’re supposed to take a step back, observe and tell you, the reader about it. Collect our check and then move on to the next one. But when pure, unadulterated evil is staring you in the face and daring you to take it on…the press pass goes down and the will to fight goes up.

Maybe Fallin and Battles went into this trying to get attention for Pink Pony, but with their Norman Music Festival performance, they publicly let it be known they want a war.

Well, kids, you got one.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin releases statement: “On Saturday night, while performing at the Norman Music Festival, my daughter acted in a way that I believe was inappropriate. While she will always be my daughter and I love her very much, I don’t approve of her behavior on that night or that of her band. I have communicated that to Christina.

“I have great respect for Oklahoma’s tribal members and I celebrate their traditions and culture. As governor, I work hand in hand with tribal leaders on everything from disaster response to economic development. Tribal governments are important partners to our state government, and I value the good relationships my administration has cultivated with them.”

The festival wrote in a statement: "The Norman Music Festival does not support the actions of Pink Pony at our festival on Saturday night. We had no prior knowledge of the performance content, and we oppose their use and depiction of American Indian artifacts and symbols,” Norman Music Festival Chair Gene Bertman said. “We certainly understand that these actions do nothing but promote racism, cultural discrimination, and religious discrimination. The Norman Music Festival is here to support artists and bring people together – not divide them. We apologize to anyone who was offended.”

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